When I was playing the new Take It, It's Yours punk covers collection from Katy Goodman (La Sera) and Greta Morgan (Springtime Carnivore), out Friday via Polyvinyl Records, I kept thinking of that Jeff Goldblum meme that's going around. You know the one I mean? There's a pic of Goldblum from 1993's Jurassic Park with his character's line, "You were so preoccupied with whether or not you could, you didn't stop to think if you should." Now, we're not talking about creating dinosaurs here but, yeah, when I got around to playing the lilting, near-lullaby-like spin on Bad Brains classic "Pay To Cum" included here, I was asking that same question. And there are 9 other covers of similarly well-regarded punk staples on this record besides that one.
Now, I guess the good news is that a lot of these covers work. "Sex Beat" (The Gun Club) and "Ever Fallen In Love" (The Buzzcocks) retain a certain charm in these new, blissful versions. As Katy and Greta wrap their warm vocal performances around these languid renditions, a listener goes from sort of laughing at to sort of loving what's being attempted. When the experiment succeeds (The Jam's "In The City" recast as something with a tinge of both Blondie and Nico about it), it does so remarkably well. When it doesn't (a slow and sad run at Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell"), the result is the sort of thing that looks cute on paper but which doesn't need to actually exist. And there's a bit of truth to that point: reading about these 2 indie singers turning "I Wanna Be Your Dog" by The Stooges into a 4AD-style, moody slow-burner is certainly better than actually hearing the thing. Really, did this ever need to exist? It's a fair question, frankly.
Now, with that bit of cynicism out of the way, I can say that there's a lot of love for the original material here and it's clear that Katy and Greta did this out of a genuine affection for the classic numbers, and not 'cause they wanted this to get played in a lot of Starbucks across the county (as it surely will). And, yeah, their enthusiasm makes this record more fun than it might have been in other hands. That said, I'm not sure that many of these renditions do more than attain a certain curiosity value. Yes, "Bastards Of Young" (The Replacements) and "Dreaming" (Blondie) are memorable in these new versions but that's due both to the performances here on Take It, It's Yours as much as it is to the strength of the songwriting behind these 2 cuts; they would work in any style, am I right? But, let's be honest, this album triumphs where it does on the sheer novelty of hearing these punk and new wave standards being recast in such a laid-back fashion.
Take It, It's Yours from Katy Goodman and Greta Morgan, out Friday on Polyvinyl Records, might not make you forget the original versions of the songs covered on this record but at least, in some spots, it may make you love the songs a little bit more.
And maybe, just maybe, someone will buy this and go out and buy some Gun Club and Misfits records after playing the covers here. Maybe.
Take It, It's Yours by Katy Goodman and Greta Morgan is out Friday via Polyvinyl Records.